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Root Cause Analysis Increases Locomotive Reliability at Amtrak

[+] Author Affiliations
Daniel Ruppert

Amtrak, Wilmington, DE

George Hull, Bruce Green, Robert Golden

The GBS Group, Virginia Beach, VA

George Binns

National Rail Passenger Corporation, Wilmington, DE

Mark Latino

Reliability Center Incorporated, Richmond, VA

Paper No. JRC/ICE2007-40042, pp. 305-310; 6 pages
  • ASME/IEEE 2007 Joint Rail Conference and Internal Combustion Engine Division Spring Technical Conference
  • ASME/IEEE 2007 Joint Rail Conference and Internal Combustion Engine Division Spring Technical Conference
  • Pueblo, Colorado, USA, March 13–16, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division and Internal Combustion Engine Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4787-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3795-5
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


In 2006, Amtrak instituted a program that coupled Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) with Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to increase rolling stock reliability. The RCM-RCA program at Amtrak combined features of RCM and RCA into a unique methodology to achieve success. A case study of the High Horsepower electric locomotive (HHP-8) power module failure RCA project is described in this paper. The initial focus of the RCA was a persistently high failure rate of power modules. Power modules are expensive to purchase and labor intensive to replace. Additionally, power module failures take locomotives out of revenue service. Partially as a result of the HHP-8 Power Module RCA project, and the implemented recommendations, the availability of the HHP-8 locomotive fleet has improved by 80%. Changes were made to the maintenance, condition monitoring, and troubleshooting procedures for HHP-8 as a result of the RCA project. The physical, human, and latent root causes for the high failure rate of HHP-8 Power Modules, were determined and addressed during this six month effort. A cross-functional team of AMTRAK personnel worked closely with reliability consultants and the original equipment manufacturers to determine the various root causes. This case study is a valuable example of how the hands-on nature of a rigorous RCA coupled with the methodology of RCM can result in significant improvements to reliability and availability.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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